Final Four (OK, Five) Shots at CBS Hoops Coverage

The NCAA Final Four will be played on April 4, with the title game two days later. So after two weeks of enjoyable basketball and ear-straining bluster, here are five final thoughts on the event so far:

— Producers love to find feel-good stories around the tournament,
but this year, they should probably keep the focus strictly on
basketball. For starters, the games are being played in Detroit, where
any allusions to Motown or the auto industry will only depress people
and bring to mind the hideous economy. Connecticut, meanwhile, enters the weekend under a cloud because of alleged recruiting violations — a
reminder that college sports are a big business that occasionally leads
to bending of the mostly preposterous rules designed to protect its
“amateur” image.

— Attention, sportswriters: The Final Four will consist of two No. 1 seeds (Connecticut, North Carolina) playing against a No. 2 and No. 3 (Michigan St. and Villanova, respectively). All four are solid basketball programs that have won championships before. And guess what? The tournament has been just fine without more of the Cinderella stories that you keep whining about. CBS could certainly hope for a little better geographic diversity, but in terms of marquee matchups, the network should be smiling.

— It’s always a relief when color guy Bill Raftery (he of the exclamation “With the kiss!”) has called his last game of the season. Dick Vitale has made a fine living hyperventilating and coining nonsensical phrases; the pretenders/imitators like Raftery — who also feel compelled to create their own languages, sort of like that character in “Nell” — have grown pretty tiresome.

— Play-by-play man Jim Nantz sounds like he’s having a religious experience (or an orgasmic one) during those promos for CBS’ Masters Coverage. “The celebration at 18. Where dreams … come true,” he oozed in one. Dude, it’s friggin’ golf, for crissakes.

— “60 Minutes” always looks a little bit silly when it tries to be a good network team player by offering a sports-themed piece to tie in with CBS sports coverage — in the case of Sunday’s episode, Steve Kroft’s profile of LeBron James. Kroft did elicit a few interesting tidbits about James having surrounded himself business-wise with childhood friends, but for the most part the Cleveland Cavaliers star didn’t have much to say, and Kroft couldn’t think of much to ask him.

Plus a free, completely gratuitous bonus sports-related observation:

— It’s interesting that there would be so much hand-wringing over whether Notre Dame should have invited President Obama to speak at its commencement ceremonies, inasmuch as Notre Dame gets invited every year somewhere where it doesn’t truly belong. It’s called a “bowl game.”

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